UNISDR

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Contents

About UNISDR

Who we are

The secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) is the UN inter-agency secretariat with the mandate to coordinate, promote and strengthen disaster risk reduction on a global, regional, national and local level. UNISDR secretariat is working towards a world without needless losses from disaster – following a guiding mission to catalyze, facilitate, and advocate for action that will protect lives and livelihoods from the impact of natural hazards.

The UNISDR headquarters is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It works through regional offices in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

UNISDR's mission

Catalyze, facilitate and mobilize commitment and support for the implementation of the ISDR system and the Hyogo Framework for Action in partnership with national, regional and international actors of the ISDR system (ISDR partners in action) to reduce disaster risk.

ISDR Secretariat Mandate

UNGA Mandates

UNGA resolution A/RES/56/195, 21 December 2001 (after review of the first 2 years of functioning of ISDR, as set out in the founding resolution of A/RES/54/219)

“6. Stresses that the inter-agency secretariat for the Strategy should be consolidated and enhanced to perform its functions effectively, in particular to serve as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster-reduction activities of the United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields;”


This is a strong coordination mandate for the secretariat underpinning all other functions. The HFA and the processes initiated with IATF in 2005 – captured in "Strategic Directions to support the implementation of HFA" (IATF May 2005) and the USG led process to strengthen the ISDR system (first draft launched at IATF Oct. 2005 for consultation with Member States and inter-agency Reference Group appointed by IATF and endorsed by MOB) resulted in the ISDR system paper for the first session of the Global Platform. This paper lays out the core functions of each body of the ISDR system.


Mandates from the Hyogo Framework for Action

(endorsed by UNGA resolution A/RES/59/233, 22 December 2005)

HFA, paragraph 33, lays out the expected functions for the ISDR system, and indicates that these ISDR partners and functions will be supported (facilitated, coordinated) by the secretariat. Key words from this mandate include:

• Develop matrix of roles and responsibilities to follow-up on implementation of HFA;
• facilitate coordination of UN system and with regional organizations activities on DRR for the implementation of HFA;
• facilitate consultative processes to develop guidelines and policy tools for each priority area;
• develop generic indicators to monitor progress in implementation of HFA, in conformity with MDGs;
• support national platforms through coordinated regional programmes and facilities;
• compile good practice, lessons-learnt and databases to share information and maintain web-based «clearing-house»;
• prepare periodic reviews and reporting;
• register partnerships.

Functions of the UNISDR / ISDR secretariat

(SG Report to UNGA, A/60/180, August 2005)

“(c) A strengthened [ISDR] secretariat would have the following core functions:

• Tracking the overall implementation of the Hyogo Framework, facilitating reviews of experience and preparing progress reports
• Promoting a worldwide culture of risk reduction, acting as a “clearing house” for information and communication materials, advocated with broad interagency collaboration and networks of expertise
• Facilitating and servicing the successor to the Task Force [the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction], the management oversight board and regional and thematic platforms and networks, encouraging policy development and reviews, and supporting cooperation among members
• Supporting national platforms for disaster risk reduction with information and policy advice, acting as a broker for the provision of technical expertise and resources to national and thematic programmes
• Serving as the focal point within the United Nations system for the coordination and harmonization of policies and strategies for disaster risk reduction, encouraging synergy between the humanitarian and socioeconomic development policies and strategies of the United Nations system
• Advocating resource mobilization, establishing tracking and reporting systems, administering the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction”

What we do

We build and support partnerships and networks with development and humanitarian groups worldwide, to build disaster resilience and promote disaster risk reduction. Partners include UN agencies, governments, international organizations, NGOs, civil society and the private sector.

We advocate for more government action on disaster risk reduction. We promote the integration of disaster reduction policies and legislation into sustainable development planning, for example by supporting multi-stakeholder national, regional and thematic platforms on disaster risk reduction.

We inform people by producing information and education materials, and promoting scientific and technical research, including guidance on disaster risk reduction strategies, protection and preparedness measures. We have developed an information clearinghouse that is also an interactive online information tool – PreventionWeb – for use by the disaster risk reduction community.

We communicate with all stakeholders in society who are concerned with disaster prevention. We work with journalists to raise awareness of the importance of disaster prevention – often neglected by the media in the aftermath of disasters. We reach out to communities that are potentially at risk from the impact of natural hazards, by communicating about disaster prevention at a local level.

We campaign, together with partners, to build awareness of disaster risk reduction, and reduce communities’ vulnerability to the impact of hazards. Our campaigns aim to strengthen disaster risk reduction policies and to influence the attitudes of decision-makers and society at large, towards dealing with disaster risk.

We promote the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) – a set of guidelines, adopted by 168 countries worldwide, on how to integrate Disaster Risk Reduction policies into national development agendas. We work to build a common understanding of the HFA and to make its priorities of mitigating the impact of natural hazards and reducing vulnerability a political and socioeconomic reality.


The Secretariat of the ISDR has been established as a flexible structure with core staff composed of a small number of substantive officers and managed by a Director under the direct authority of the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs. In additional to the core staff, consultants and personnel are considered on the basis of special funding for specific activities to be carried out by the Secretariat in connection with its key functions.

Responsibilities

ISDR Secretariat functions and responsibilities as per Secretary General’s report A/54/497: (English, French, Spanish)

- To serve as the focal point within the United Nations system for the coordination of strategies and programmes for natural disaster reduction, and to ensure synergy between disaster reduction strategies and those in the socio-economic and humanitarian fields;

- To support the inter-agency task force in the development of policies on natural disaster reduction;

- To promote a worldwide culture of reduction of the negative effects of natural hazards, through advocacy campaigns;

- To serve as an international clearing house for the dissemination and exchange of information and knowledge on disaster reduction strategies; and

- To backstop the policy and advocacy activities of national committees for natural disaster reduction.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) – UNISDR Key messages

1. Disasters are not 'natural'. They can often be prevented and their impact mitigated.

2. Social conditions shaped by humans – such as poverty and inequality – increase people’s vulnerability to hazards. The lack of physical resources and awareness to cope with shocks is what causes disasters when natural hazards strike.

3. Disasters do not only cause immediate human suffering and destruction but impede long-term development by keeping people trapped in a vicious spiral of poverty.

4. Disaster risk reduction is about saving lives and livelihoods – by changing people’s mindsets. It is about shifting from response to prevention and reducing communities’ vulnerability.

5. People have a right to live in safety and with dignity. Countries have a responsibility to protect their citizens. Disaster risk reduction policies should therefore be systematically integrated into sustainable development strategies.

6. Health and education are essential for reducing societies’ vulnerability. Governments have a responsibility to provide for these services and protect their buildings – thus making communities more resilient to disasters.

7. Early warning systems can be life-saving. If alarms are sounded before disaster strikes human loss can be avoided.

8. Educate to build a culture of prevention. People need to be provided with knowledge, skills and resources in order to be able to protect themselves from disaster risk.

9. A safe and healthy environment is vital. It is everybody’s responsibility to protect the environment - to mitigate the impact caused by natural hazards.

10. Climate change starts with disaster risk reduction. Climate change is predicted to increase frequency and intensity of storms, floods and droughts. Communities need to be prepared to be able to deal with the impact of climate-related hazards.

11. Be prepared when disaster strikes. People need to be equipped with the necessary skills and resources in order to be able to respond effectively to disasters – to save lives.

12. Old things can be priceless – like communities’ traditional knowledge about early warning on natural hazards.

13. Disaster risk reduction is everybody's responsibility. All of us may be affected by hazards - be it an earthquake, hurricane or floods. Lives and livelihoods can be saved when disaster risk reduction is made a priority.


(See also: Disaster risk reduction)

Summary for UN Resident Coordinators

June 2008:

ISDR system:

The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA), endorsed by 168 countries in 2005, serves as the overall framework for implementing disaster risk reduction world-wide. The ISDR system supports nations and communities to implement the Hyogo Framework. ISDR is a system of partnerships including governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, scientific and technical bodies and specialized networks as well as civil society and the private sector (ISDR partners in action). The ISDR system’s basic structure includes a Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a Management Oversight Board, an Inter-Agency Group that developed an ISDR System Joint Work-Programme, thematic and regional platforms and the ISDR secretariat (UNISDR).


ISDR secretariat:

The UNISDR (ISDR secretariat), launched in 2000 (A/RES/54/219) serves as the focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster-reduction activities of the United Nations system and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields (A/RES/56/195). The secretariat services the ISDR system and administrates the UN Trust Fund for Disaster Reduction. Core functions of the secretariat include: follow-up on the implementation of HFA and report on progress, facilitate policy guidelines for the priority areas including by linking disaster risk reduction to the climate change negotiations, conduct awareness campaigns and high-level policy dialogues, provide information services and tools, and support national platforms and coordination efforts in these areas, through its regional programmes. (See more: www.unisdr.org; www.eird.org; www.preventionweb.net)


Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

In 2006 the World Bank launched the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) in support of the implementation of the HFA and ISDR system. The GFDRR is among the ISDR partners in action.

URL: www.gfdrr.org.


UN Mechanisms

UN/ISDR Services to UN

History of the UNISDR Mandate

1987

Guiding Strategy: International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)

General Assembly Resolution: A/RES/42/169 (decides to designate the 1990s as the IDNDR)


1988-1989

Guiding Strategy: International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)

General Assembly Resolutions:

- A/RES/43/202 (preparations)
- A/RES/44/236 (proclaims IDNDR, 2nd Wed. of Oct. Intl. Day, adopts Int. Framework for IDNDR)


1990

Guiding Strategy: International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR)

Secretariat: IDNDR Secretariat (Works closely with UNDRO)

General Assembly Resolution: A/RES/45/185


1994

Major Conference: World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, Yogohama

Guiding Strategy: Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World

Secretariat: IDNDR Secretariat

General Assembly Resolution: A/RES/49/22


2000

Guiding Strategy: International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)

Secretariat: UN secretariat to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Global Coordination: Inter-Agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction (IATF/DR)

Regional, National Coordination: National Platform for Disaster Reduction (refer to ECOSOC1999/63 IDNDR: successor arrangements)

General Assembly Resolutions:

- A/RES/54/219
- A/54/497 (Sec.Gen report)


2002

Major Conference: World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg

Guiding Strategy: Johannesburg Plan of Implementation

Secretariat: UN/DESA

General Assembly Resolutions:

- A/RES/56/195
- A/RES/57/256
- A/RES/58/215


2005-present

Major Conference: World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), Kobe

Guiding Strategy: Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters

Common Statement of the special session on the Indian Ocean disaster: risk reduction for a safer future

Secretariat: UN secretariat to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

Global Coordination: ISDR System

Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (Successor to IATF/DR)

Regional, National Coordination: Regional Platform (For Asia – 2007 Delhi Declaration)

General Assembly Resolutions:

- A/RES/58/214
- A/60/180 (Sec.Gen report)
- A/61/229 (Sec.Gen report)
- A/RES/59/231
- A/RES/60/195
- A/RES/61/198
- A/RES/62/192


2007

Major Conference: UNFCCC COP13

Guiding Strategy: Bali Action Plan – Decision of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention

Secretariat: UNFCCC

General Assembly Resolution: FCCC/CP/2007/L.7/Rev.1


Other

Margareta Wahlstrom was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action in the Secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction on November 17, 2008.

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